grapefruit seed extract in a jar grapefruit seed extract in a jar



  • Grapefruit Seed Extract (also known as GSE) is a naturally potent antioxidant derived from the seeds and vibrant pulp of the grapefruit.

  • Pure GSE is particularly rich in phytochemicals such as Flavonoids, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and Tocopherols (Vitamin E) that contribute to its preservative and disinfecting actions.

  • GSE is used as a natural preservative in a wide range of cosmetic and skincare products to help stop the growth of harmful microorganisms such as fungus or bacteria and extend its shelf life. In water-based formulations, GSE must be supplemented by a full-spectrum commercial preservative.




The tropical grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) is well-known for its powerful health and beauty benefits. Within the cosmetics and skincare world, Grapefruit Seed Extract (commonly abbreviated to GSE) is also used widely for its natural antioxidant and preservative powers. Derived from the seeds and vibrant pulp of the fruit, this natural citrus extract instantly elevates cosmetic, personal care, and household products with its topical antiseptic and preservative properties while enhancing their label appeal.

Grapefruit Seed Extract should not be confused with Grapefruit Essential Oil, Grapeseed Extract, or Grape Seed Carrier Oil. This product also differs in composition, appearance, and uses to NDA's Standardized Grapefruit Liquid Botanical Extract.




The impressive abilities of grapefruit seeds were first discovered in the 1960s by physicist and immunologist Dr. Jacob Harich. At the time, Dr. Harich lived in Florida, where grapefruit trees thrived under its hot, humid climate and were cultivated in abundance. He noticed the seeds were very slow to decompose in his compost bin, a place where bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens obviously flourished. This hinted at the grapefruit's natural antimicrobial properties, and a fascinated Dr. Harich went on to create a liquid extract using its pulp and seeds and demonstrated its potential health benefits on patients.

Since then, Grapefruit Seed Extract has a long history of usage in the alternative, complementary, holistic, and natural healthcare. Its reputed medicinal properties - including its antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial actions - have proliferated its use in various medical, pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, general sanitation, and outdoor safety applications.

Due to the botanical origin of this extract, it has become highly desirable to use GSE in the preservation of natural cosmetics and products. Natural antioxidants such as Grapefruit Seed Extract, Vitamin E, and Rosemary Antioxidant (CO2 Extract) can help formulations stay free of bacteria and microbes if made in small batches, stored properly, and used up quickly. It is important to note, however, that due to the lack of clarity surrounding the properties of natural Grapefruit Seed Extract, there have been some hyperbolic claims about its preservative powers and medical potency. Some natural cosmetic lines have incorporated the extract to act as a full-spectrum preservative, although it does not reach this standard. Water-based formulations must, therefore, include a commercial preservative designed to stop the growth of bacteria, fungus, and other pathogenic organisms to supplement this natural preservative.

Today, the unique dual aspect of Grapefruit Seed Extract - its antimicrobial actions coupled with its natural origin - is one reason behind its immense success within the natural beauty and cosmetics industry.




The grapefruit seed extract is made primarily from the seeds and pulp of the grapefruit. The extraction is largely a sustainable process as the seeds and pulp are remnants occurring in the manufacturing of the grapefruit beverages. These raw materials are crushed, undergo steam extraction, and mixed with Glycerin USP and Vitamin C. The Glycerin acts as a base for the extract while Vitamin C helps adjust its pH levels. The resulting extract is sold commercially as a solution. It can naturally range from lemon yellow to golden brown in color and has a very faint odor.




The Grapefruit seeds, pulp, and peels are a naturally abundant source of Flavonoids, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Citric Acid, and citrus Limonoids. Flavonoids such as Naringin are protective compounds that exert strong antioxidant action, fighting the harmful effects of free radicals that destruct cells via oxidation. They also play a supportive role in sustaining the body's immunity. Ascorbic acid contributes to the structural integrity of the skin by facilitating collagen production, an essential protein that maintains the shape of the skin and helps in regenerating its cells when wounded. Tocopherols are also potent antioxidants and work in conjunction with Ascorbic acid to counter the effects of oxidation. Citric Acid, yet another antioxidant, also displays anti-inflammatory properties and helps exfoliate the skin while encouraging it to heal. 

Grapefruit Seed Extract harnesses the power of these potent anti-oxidative compounds, including Flavonoids, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), and Tocopherols (Vitamin E). Together, they contribute to the compelling preservative effects that have been observed. In particular, GSE offers the following primary benefits:

Natural Antibacterial Properties

Laboratory studies suggest that GSE also has the ability to kill infectious fungi such as Candida. These antifungal properties have made it a popular ingredient in cosmetic lotions and salves designed to topically soothe, comfort, and ease skin sensitivities or itching.

Natural Antifungal Properties

Laboratory studies suggest that GSE also has the ability to kill infectious fungi such as Candida. These antifungal properties have made it a popular ingredient in cosmetic lotions and creams designed to topically soothe, comfort, and ease skin sensitivities or itching. 

Natural Antimicrobial Properties

In addition to the strains mentioned above, Grapefruit Seed Extract has also been reported to act against a variety of other pathogenic organisms, including viruses and parasites. Due to its strong overall antimicrobial properties, GSE is commonly incorporated as a preservative in many industries, including in cosmetics, where it can restrict the growth of certain microorganisms and prolong their shelf life.




Above all, GSE is recommended for the following two applications:

  • To encourage the shelf life extension of natural skincare or personal care products through its natural protective and anti-microbial properties.
  • For use in home cleaning products, due to its antiseptic and purifying properties.

Grapefruit Seed Extract has been used successfully and creatively in a wide range of cosmetic products, including facial cleansers, creams, serums, shower gels, soaps, shampoos, face masks, and deodorants. It is also popular in consumer home care and cleaning products, including cleaning sprays, laundry detergents, and disinfecting wipes.

GSE is a flexible cosmetic ingredient that is compatible with many raw materials and is soluble in water, alcohol, and organic solvents. When used on its own, it is recommended to dilute GSE to 1.5 – 3.0%. In cosmetic, skincare, and personal care formulations, it can be added to the water phase at levels of 0.1 to 1.0% to help stop the growth of harmful microorganisms and prolong shelf life. Formulations that include water or have water-based applications (such as washing and showering) must additionally incorporate a full-spectrum commercial preservative for added safety and security. Commercial products must be lab tested to evaluate the effectiveness of its preservative(s).

Due to its inability to dissolve in oils, GSE is not effective in anhydrous formulations; Rosemary Antioxidant (CO2 Extract can be used in its place.

A skin patch test is recommended to determine any skin irritations prior to full topical application.

Note: Investigative studies have shown that some commercial brands of GSEs have been adulterated with synthetic preservatives (such as Triclosan and Methylparaben) and synthetic antipathogenic chemicals such as Benzethonium Chloride. The addition of these agents can potentially cause toxicity or sensitivities if used or inhaled. For this reason, the importance of sourcing GSE from a reputable, ethical, and trusted supplier must be highlighted. NDA's Grapefruit Seed Extract is derived from pure Grapefruit, does not contain any harmful adulterants, and has undergone stringent quality control and purity testing.

Interested in learning about other antioxidants used in cosmetics and skincare? Check out our articles on Rosemary Antioxidant (CO2 Extract and Liquid Vitamin E!




It is important to enjoy Grapefruit Seed Extract benefits while using it safely and responsibly. As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, Grapefruit Seed Extract is not a food-grade product and is for external use only. It must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using this extract for therapeutic purposes.

Grapefruit Seed Extract can cause irritations or skin sensitivities if used undiluted and so must always be diluted appropriately before topical application. A skin patch test is recommended to determine how your skin will react to this product.

Children and pregnant women are especially advised not to use Grapefruit Seed Extract without the medical advice of a physician, as most available data is insufficient for a conclusion regarding its safety in these groups.

In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IMPORTANT: All New Directions Aromatics (NDA) products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. Please refer to our policies for further details, and our disclaimer below.

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